Introduction
in Disability in the Industrial Revolution

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores the history of disability within communities where some degree of bodily damage was the norm rather than the exception, where injuries, diseases and ailments were accepted as daily occurrences. Beginning in 1780, just before the expansion of the Great Northern Coalfield in north-east England, the book addresses the processes of industrialisation related to coalmining and their implications for conceptions and experiences of disability. It takes a cultural approach to disability in industrial society that focuses on the meanings of impairment rather than quantification. The book focuses primarily on physically disabling and chronic conditions that had an occupational basis in coalmining, such as amputation, mobility impairment, visual impairment and chronic illness, such as respiratory disease, which caused progressive 'debility'.

Disability in the Industrial Revolution

Physical impairment in British coalmining, 1780–1880

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